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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

GCC railway plans back on track: Report

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The plans to develop and expand the rail network in the GCC has gained momentum in recent times, according to a recently released report.


The Oxford Business Group in its latest report said that the railway project ‘was given a significant boost in December last year in Riyadh when leaders of the six countries approved the establishment of the GCC Railways Authority.


“The GCC Railway project, initially approved in 2009, was delayed due to oil prices and the Covid-19 pandemic. The project aimed to connect all six GCC countries via a 2,177-km railway. Starting in Kuwait, passing through Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE and finally terminating in the Sultanate of Oman.”


“The development of the railway would significantly improve regional connectivity by reducing transportation times and costs between major GCC cities and ports, improving trade flows across the bloc and attracting investment. The shorter travel times could help bolster the tourism and entertainment sector, an area that a number of Gulf countries are looking to grow in line with wider efforts to diversify their economies,” the report said.


The construction of a GCC-wide railway bodes well for regional collaboration and would support plans for greater economic alignment, the report said.


The report added that the Sultanate of Oman recently revealed plans to build a metro in Muscat.


Speaking to the Observer earlier this year, Eng Said bin Hamoud al Maawali, Minister of Transport, Communications and Information Technology, "This year the ministry is actively pursuing the possibilities of the train project."


The government will seek investments to establish a railway line from Suhar to the Khazaen Dry Port area, which will be then linked to neighbouring Saudi Arabia to boost the logistics sector.


There are also plans to work on the metro railway project for Muscat as the authorities seek to develop the capital as a major metropolis in the coming years.


"There is a committee formed for the metro in Muscat, and the first report has been submitted. The committee included representatives of all relevant authorities," said the minister.


@vinot_nair


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